A program for young New Brunswickers with social, emotional and behavioural problems is expanding after a large grant from the Medavie Health Foundation.

The Youth Quest Central program is run by Moncton Youth Residences Inc. and helps about 500 people between the ages of 10 and 24 each year.

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Mel Kennah, the centre's executive director, said the new funding will help deliver better services. (Moncton Youth Residences Inc.)

About half of those young people are either diagnosed with or exhibit signs of a mental illness.

The Medavie Health Foundation announced on Friday that it was giving $55,000 to help expand the program.

Mel Kennah, the executive director of Moncton Youth Residences, said the new funding is badly needed and it will help deliver better services to young people in the city.

"The array of challenges or barriers that one might encounter as a result of this and how to bring some stability to their situation and make some specific plans to move forward," Kennah said.

The Moncton Youth Resources Inc. was founded in 1985 after the New Brunswick government asked Moncton Boys and Girls Club to assume control of a parent model group home.

The organization offers a number of programs for the at-risk youth, including community services, in-home family support, highly-structured residential treatment programs and less structured transitional housing.

The Medavie Health Foundation, which is funded by Medavie Blue Cross, is trying to help fund local projects that support mental health in children and youth.

"We are proud to fund the development of a mental health support program that could transform the prospects for at-risk youth," said Ruth Rappini, the vice-president of Medavie Health Foundation, in a statement. 

"This program will ensure youth impacted by mental health concerns receive the support they need to live productive, fulfilling lives."

New support program

A support group will be launched so young people can talk to one another and help each other cope with their problems.

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Moncton's Youth Quest Central will create a support group so young people can help each other cope with their problems. (Facebook)

"It's something that can really cause disruption in almost all relationships that they have in some cases and really result in some isolation and break downs of being able to move forward," he said.

Kennah said the support group will be launched in late March and will start small, with about 12 people.

"We would have considerably more youth than that who potentially could access that service, so it's not for a tiny little niche of the 500 people that we might serve at Youth Resource Centre of Youth Quest Central," Kennah said.

"But we'll probably start small and build from there."